First Choice Neurology

Medical Marijuana and Medical Cannabis

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, is plant-based from the cannabis species with two active compounds THC and CBD. The medicine contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Each one has a different effect on the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine. Medical marijuana can be administered through various methods including capsules, lozenges, edibles, lotion, spray, oil, or cream, and vaporizing or smoking dried buds.

The most common use of medical cannabis is for pain control. It can help ease the pain of multiple sclerosis and nerve pain. It is used as a muscle relaxant and lessens tremors in Parkinson’s disease. It can also be prescribed for fibromyalgia and most other painful conditions.

Medical marijuana is used to help treat different neurological conditions, including:

• Epilepsy
• Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
• Parkinson’s disease
• Chronic Pain
• Movement disorders
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Florida?

Yes, for various neurological disorders. First Choice Neurology is actively using medical marijuana for patients with epilepsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain. All of these conditions are approved by the state of Florida to receive medical cannabis. The neurologists at First Choice Neurology are very experienced with the use of medical marijuana as a component of traditional drug therapy. Medical marijuana is also for those patients who do not want to be on prescription drug medication.

About 85% of Americans support legalizing this medicine, and it is estimated that at least several million Americans currently use it.


Is a Prescription Needed for Medical Cannabis?

Medical Marijuana - Florida Department of HealthYou must have a condition that qualifies for medical treatment. To get medical marijuana, you need a written recommendation from a licensed doctor. Only qualified physicians are permitted to certify patients for medical marijuana use. First Choice Neurology has several qualified physicians with the Florida Department of Health.

The Office of Medical Marijuana Use, through its contracted vendor Veritec, is the only entity issuing legal identification cards for medical marijuana in Florida. No other entity is authorized to process applications.


Does Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana?

Unfortunately, health insurance does not cover the cost of medical marijuana. It is important to understand when purchasing medical marijuana from a registered dispensary, you must pay with cash. Checks, credit cards, and insurance reimbursement are not available.

All insurance companies have a list of medications they cover for their members. Your health plan’s pharmacy and therapeutics committee would have to add medical marijuana to its drug formulary before it would be a covered benefit of your health insurance.

When the FDA approves a new drug, it also grants a period of time in which the company given the new drug approval has exclusive rights to manufacture and sell the drug in the United States. Without FDA approval, your health insurance company won’t pay for medical marijuana.


Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy and Chronic Pain

One of the benefits of medical marijuana, in neurology, is that it is very helpful with epilepsy. It can often lower the medication burden, the amount of milligram strength that is required of traditional anticonvulsant, an anti-seizure drug. This is very helpful for patients who are having side effects from medications in the management of epilepsy.

When treating patients with chronic nonmalignant pain, medical marijuana is used to help ween patients off of narcotics and opioid drugs. Medical marijuana can play a strong roll in helping limit the amount of prescription pharmacotherapy that has to be taken by a patient.


Beware of Buying Medical Cannabis or CBD Online

The Florida Department of Health is reminding Florida residents to use caution to avoid falling victim to medical cannabis scams.

The US Food and Drug Administration recently sent a warning letter to a Massachusetts company for illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD). “Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims…can put patients and consumers at risk by leading them to put off important medical care,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, MD, said in a statement. The FDA says the company used product webpages, its online store, and social media to make unsupported and unapproved claims about more than a dozen different CBD products.

To date, the FDA has approved only one CBD product — a purified formulation of CBD (Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals) — to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome).

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